Travel Tricks - Part 1 - What kind of picture are you taking?

For a photographer, vacations can become a bit of a stressful event. There is the stress of the vacation itself (yes, although they are supposed to relax you, studies have shown that vacations can be more stressful than everyday life!), the stress of sleeping in different beds, of keeping a bunch of people busy and happy, and lastly, of trying really hard to document the trip. You are, after all, the photographer in the family...

As a part-time photographer who does not specialize in Travel Photography, I have come up with a few tricks that I think many of you would like. I am going to separate them into a few blog articles in order to keep it simple.

My first thoughts, and what I tell all my friends who ask me for photography advice regarding travel, is to understand ahead of time the types of pictures you are going to take. I break them down into 3 categories. Those categories translate into gear type used, and post production process.

1) Social media/documentation - these are the photos that are telling my family that are following my travels online where I am, what I am eating, and who I am with. Gear = cellphone, maybe Point and Shoot. Post-processing = none, maybe a filter on my phone.

This was taken with my Iphone 5C. No processing, uploaded immediately to facebook with the caption "Anniversary dinner in bed!".

2) Snapshots - these are the photos that document the trip in a bit more detail. The ones that fill 25 pages of the 30 page vacation book I may print. These are also the photos that may lead to number 3) eventually, but that's for another blog article. Gear = Point and Shoot (I use the Nikon AW130) - Post-processing = Ipad with Photo or LR Mobile - from Jpeg, so very light processing.

I took this photo with a Nikon AW130, processed on my IPAD with Photo. It is at the Tinguely museum in Basel Switzerland.

3) Competition/Wall hanging - these are the photos that I spend time on, both taking and processing. And let's face it, sometimes, they are few and far between. When I went to Europe for the first time, I was like a kid in a candy store. Beautiful buildings, statues, etc. But people everywhere. People, and more people. At 6 in the morning, and at 11 at night. And they were all taking pictures of the same things that I "thought" I wanted to take a picture of. Three days into the trip, I had to reset both my picture taking thought process as well as my expectations (again, that's another blog) Gear = Canon 5Dmkiii + 24-70 F2.8 II - Post-processing = at home, on my computer, with LR and PS.

The image that is at the front of this article was taken and processed for wall hanging. On reflection, it may not make it. But it was taken with Canon 5Dmkiii with 24-70 F2.8, with an NND filter allowing for long shutter speed. Process on a mac pro with LR. No PS.

Once you are able to wrap your head around that breakdown, it can help reduce stress. It even got to the point where, yes, I did not take my "big-boy-camera" with me on some outings. Hard to believe. The first one was more stressful in that I kept thinking "am I going to miss an opportunity?". Yes, I am. Too bad. It's ok. My wife was getting a bit tired of me not being "in the moment", and she was right. I was spending too much time thinking, and not enough time doing and enjoying. So I tried really hard to stop looking for that shot.

So, take the pressure off of yourself, as a vacationing photographer, of making every single image you take fall into number 3.  It's not going to happen. It doesn't need to happen. In a popular tourist destination, it's less likely than you think. With a bit of a resetting of expectations however, you can have a fantastic vacation where the photography does not add to the stress! Ask yourself - why am I taking this picture, and where is it going to end up? Is it a 1, 2, or 3? And take the photo/process accordingly.

Next blogs will include:

- Why carry a Point-and-Shoot and which one should I buy?

- What gear should I bring?

- How do I reset my expectations, and thus my "picture taking thought process"?

- Photography days - why you should plan solo days, or days without the non-photographers in your group